Benefits of a Virtual CIO
Information is probably the most important asset of any business. As such, it needs a proactive management approach. Sadly, many small businesses lack the necessary technical and financial resources to commit full-time personnel to manage information. The in-house IT crew has a lot of day-to-day responsibilities and may not have sufficient time to devote to information management. Information management strategies require a much broader resource base than just your in-house IT team. Your business requires objective and expert guidance on the best practices, evolving technology, and risk management. The most cost-effective option is a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO).
Definition of vCIO
A virtual CIO is an outsourced specialist who understands the “nooks and crannies” of your specific industry and business. Having a vCIO partner will allow you to create a “big-picture” mechanism that incorporates and leverages your current technology, so your business can stand out in a competitive industry. Basically, a vCIO provides a bundle of managed services to eliminate the discrepancies in your IT department. Their services are particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises that cannot afford a full-time Executive CIO to drive revenue.
Must Your Company Have a CIO?
Research indicates that most small and medium-sized companies don’t have a CIO, primarily due to a lack of financial resources. They are forced to make strategic decisions without a Chief Information Officer, which can be risky. Large companies may have the necessary resources to support a full-time CIO but finding a qualified professional with a proven track record, who is also a good fit for your company, is a daunting task. They are rare and in high demand – and as such, often very costly. This is where a vCIO comes in! They can help fill the gaps in your existing company structure – often more cost-effectively than a full-time CIO.
In general, a company with less than 250 workers doesn’t need a full-time, onsite CIO. Again, this depends on how much your business operations rely on technology for growth. There are several questions to ask before hiring a full-time CIO:
- What role does technology play in your company?
- What applications do your customers and employees use and what are their security requirements?
- What are your data access needs?
- What is your expansion plan and how will this affect your future needs? If you do not have a full-time CIO, your best option is to hire a vCIO to provide necessary consulting, training, and advice on an as-needed basis. This option not only reduces your financial investment, it provides access to proven expertise, and insight into the most efficient use of technology to elevate your business above the competition.
In essence, a vCIO will help with:
- Increasing shareholder value
- Analyzing the IT environment
- Monitoring the future business needs and recommending the best measures to take for success
- Planning and designing strategic utilization of technologiesWays Your Business Can Benefit from a vCIO:
Most organizations find that a full-time CIO comes with a hefty salary. To save money, the duties that are typical to CIOs are often reassigned to the CEO or CFO, which can take their focus away from their primary roles, thus affecting the progress of the business. The responsibilities of a CIO include disaster recovery and business continuity plans, as well as budgeting for future IT needs. A virtual CIO is an expert in these areas and can easily fill this role whenever needed.
How a vCIO Will Benefit Your Company:
- Reduced Costs:
Hiring a full-time CIO can not only be difficult, it is expensive as well. These specialists are rare. And if you do find the right one, they will likely come with a six-figure salary. Outsourcing this role is the best solution. Your company receives all the benefits of a CIO without incurring the high overhead.
- Unparalleled Knowledge and Expertise:
When your business outsources a CIO to an external agency, it means you’re getting the expert knowledge needed to develop a strategic roadmap. Generally, an outside specialist brings unique perspectives and techniques because they have worked with other businesses just like yours. You shouldn’t view a technology roadmap as an “extra” IT cost, but rather as a necessary tool for achieving your business goals. A vCIO adopts the best IT strategy to perpetuate business growth.
- Security and Disaster Recovery Solutions:
Most companies don’t bother to implement disaster recovery measures until after a calamity strikes or a security breach occurs. A virtual Chief Information Officer can mediate amidst unexpected occurrences. They know how to develop and implement effective preventative plans. Data recovery plans ensure that your company survives a catastrophe. It is always good to prepare for the worst, which could include anything from a flooded computer room to a long-term power outage. With a virtual CIO, you are guaranteed a custom business continuity plan that aligns with your company’s specific needs. With this plan, you will always be confident that you have this essential protection.
- Strategic Direction:
A fundamental duty of a vCIO is to close the gaps in the prevailing IT operations and address the discrepancies. This entails data regulatory compliance, managing client relationships, information security and financial data management, and preparations for legal audits. Rather than overloading your IT personnel with this massive undertaking, your vCIO can perform these duties in a much more effective and efficient manner because this is where their expertise lies.
- Data Migration and Integration:
Information is not a static concept. It changes and grows rapidly. You cannot store a database of information in a single application. You will always find the need to duplicate and store it in other places within your company. A vCIO helps you transfer files, share sensitive data, and monitor the risks involved. They will also establish the best plans for data storage and access. You don’t need to store irrelevant data in your system. The virtual CIO will show you the proper way to eliminate unreliable and outdated information.
- Developing Processes and Policies:
Since a virtual CIO has extensive experience in finding the best solutions for various industries and businesses, they are able to make educated and reliable decisions in matters related to technology use and cost reduction. For instance, they can help you design a policy for regulating privately-owned technology by your employees. You cannot rely on your onsite IT team to make such decisions. Only an impartial and experienced vCIO can be trusted with this.
- Adding Value to Business Information:
You must ensure that your business gets the maximum value from your internal data. Do the terms “business intelligence” and “big data” sound like technical jargon to you? If so, perhaps you are not receiving the technological insights you need from your current IT team. The value in hiring a vCIO is that you get a professional who will select and execute cost-effective techniques for data analytics and visualization. Moreover, the vCIO will see to it that all managers understand the charts, graphs, and reports that are generated. As such, you won’t waste time and money trying to analyze business information.Your IT crew can manage daily maintenance requirements. But a vCIO brings much more to the table! They will align technology in accordance with your company objectives. Their main duty is to implement strategic plans that utilize technology to achieve YOUR business goals. They perform the same duties as an in-house CIO at a fraction of the cost.